Grammatical case

Case is special grammatical form of nouns and pronouns expressing their role in syntax and semantics of sentence. Usually languages with case system a little bit complex than English also apply cases to adjectives, numerals and other lexical categories able to function as object or subject. Nûrlâm has no agreement in case with them. However numerals have some case endings with special meaning.

Nûrlâm has 14 cases formed mostly by postpositions which are usually translated into English as prepositions, which makes interpretation of cases much easier than one can expect from their quantity. The exception is Accusative case ending, which has no separate meaning thus making it suffix rather than postposition. The case system is very close to that of Finno-Ugric (Uralic) languages, some languages of Caucasus and extinct Hurrian language which has some similarity with Tolkien's Black Speech. There is also some resemblance with Quenya's case system, which was also inspired by Finnish language. Case postpositions are the same for all lexical categories using them, but are different for two existing declension classes and many pronouns have special forms.

Certain verbs require their objects to be in specific case or may even change their meaning depending on object's case.

Case endings table

The table of case postpositions and suffixes. “∅” stands for zero-ending. “Ending I” is for declension class I (ending with consonants) and “Ending II” is for words ending with vowels.

Case Abbreviation Ending I Ending II English translation
Nominative NOM -∅
Genitive GEN -ob -b of, 's
Dative DAT -ûr -zûr for, to (somebody)
Accusative ACC -∅
-ish -sh
Instrumental INS -irzi -rzi by, by means of, by use of, with use of, using, through (use of), via
Comitative COM -sha (together) with
Essive ESS -si similar to, as a …, like a …, -like
Ablative ABL -bo from, off
Adessive ADE -ir -zir on, on top of, at
Allative ALL -u -zu to, towards, upon, onto
Elative ELA -ah -zah from, out of
Illative ILL -ishi -shi into, inwards, inside, in, within
Inessive INE -or -zor at, in
Intrative ITRT -ri between, amidst, among

Locative and marginal cases change syntactical role of noun to adverbial phrase instead of object or subject.

Relation of locative cases

The table below shows better the distinction between various locative cases:

Status of motion Position in space
motion to
motion from

However, while the difference between Illative and Allative cases is usually clear and easy to catch, with other pairs it's often not, so some practice and memorization is needed.

Case forms of pronouns

Case forms are given for standalone personal pronouns. Forms different from standard are marked bold. Pronouns in Accusative case always has -(i)sh endings (except 3rd person neutral za and plural tak and ut). 1st and 2nd person plural pronouns have case same forms as their singular equivalents but with common plural suffixes or -z added after case endings according to postposition's declension class (e.g. “izishiz” = to us). Other pronouns has usual case endings according to tables above. As subject and object pronouns have distinct forms, the terms Subjective and Objective case are used instead of Nominative or Accusative.

Case All subdialects Modern variant 2
Person Person
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
you, thou
you, ye
sg. m.,
sg. f.,
sg. n.,
you, thou
you, ye
SUB, NOM da dak fi gi ta na za tak izg izgû lat latû ulû
OBJ, ACC iz ak am af an ul
GEN dab dakob fib gib tab nab zab takob izub izubû lab labû ulubû
DAT dazûr dakûr fizûr gizûr tazûr nazûr zazûr takûr izûr izûrû latûr latûrû ulûr
ACC1) tash nash za ul izish izishû latish latishû ul
INS darzi dakirzi firzi girzi tarzi narzi zarzi takirzi izirzi izirziz latirzi latirziz ulirzi
COM dasha daksha fisha gisha tasha nasha zasha taksha isha ishaz latsha latshaz ulsha
ESS dasi daksi fisi gisi tasi nasi zasi taksi issi issiz latsi latsiz ulsi
ABL dabo dakbo fibo gibo tabo nabo zabo takbo izbo izboz latbo latboz ulbo
ADE dazir dakir fizir gizir tazir nazir zazir takir izir izirû latir latirû ulir
ALL dazu daku fizu gizu tazu nazu zazu taku izgu izguz latu latuz uluz
ELA dazah dakah fizah gizah tazah nazah zazah takah izah izahû latah latahû ulah
ILL dashi dakishi fishi gishi tashi nashi zashi takishi izishi izishiz latishi latishiz ulishi
INE dazor dakor fizor gizor tazor nazor zazor takor izor izorû lator latorû ulor
ITRT dari dakri firi giri tari nari zari takri izri izriz latri latriz ulri

Case forms of numerals

Numerals have no agreement with nouns in case but they take case some case endings to modify their meanings. They are:

  • Genitive case suffix -ob is used in expression of fractions in contrast to English use of ordinals. Example: ash gakhob gaub = one third of fruit. (changed)
  • Instrumental case suffix -irzi express distributive numbers, i.e. hantirzi = by four(s), ash ashirzi = one by one.

Evolution of cases in Black Speech

Probably every postposition was meant to be a specific case ending in ancient forms of Black Speech. Orc-curse copies English grammar in cases (lacking of them) and using prepositions instead of postpositions. So, the following stages of dropping out the cases are assumed:

  1. Accusative took the null ending for nouns quite early, however pronouns kept special form of it, and some other case endings are added to it instead of Nominative case form.
  2. merging Adessive and Inessive cases for declension class II (same ending -r instead of -zir and -zor), later they merged also for declension class I into general Locative case (in form of Inessive -or).
  3. abandoning of locative cases except Allative and Illative.
  4. only 7 cases are left in Svartiska: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Instrumental, Inessive (took ending of Illative), Locative, Similative (Essive). Some of them have endings different from Nûrlâm's.
  5. Shadowlandian dialect does not name postpositions as cases but still have special grammatical meanings of remaining ones. It uses the form of Allative case as Dative at least for pronouns. So, five cases (Nominative, Genitive, Dative-Allative, Instrumental, Illative) plus special form of Accusative for pronouns left in Shadowlandian.
  6. in Colloquial Svartiska only four cases (Nominative, Genitive, Inessive-Illative and sometimes Dative) are left according to Arda Philology 1
  7. no cases in Orcish curse. Probably, Genitive is still used sometimes as Possessive case. In Shadowlandian only 3rd person singular pronouns kept distinct Objective case form (same as Accusative but used for all other cases).
only in modern dialects, for Archaic and Standard language see OBJ
grammar_case.txt · Last modified: 2022/11/07 00:59 (external edit)